Beyond the BackyardOrlando Wetlands Park

Tiny Dancers and Other Birds at Orlando Wetlands

Many moons ago, Michael posted a photo of a Snowy Egret on Flickr that he entitled Tiny Dancer.  Well, thanks to that photo, I get Elton John in my head every time I see fishing Snowy Egrets!  It’s a fitting title, though.  The birds are so graceful as they do their over-water gymnastics.  At my visit to Orlando Wetlands Park last weekend, the Snowies were one of my favorite photo ops.  They are fun to photograph as they dance across the water, looking for breakfast.

Tiny Dancer - with Fish! at Orlando Wetlands
Tiny Dancer – with Fish!

Look at those yellow feet as he runs across the water!  If you peek closely, you’ll see the minnow in his mouth.

Snowy Egret Fishing Technique at Orlando Wetlands
Snowy Egret Fishing Technique

Such a splash of water as he comes up from a dive!  The water looked cool and refreshing.  Up on land, the photographer was sitting in itchy grass sweating! ;-)

Birdy Arabesque? at Orlando Wetlands
Birdy Arabesque?

This tiny dancer listened well to his ballet teacher.  He remembered to point his back toes and he dove in a form of birdy arabesque!

The egrets weren’t the only birds at Orlando Wetlands.  Shall I confess to taking pictures of anything that moved, just because I was so happy to get back out with my camera?

Red-shouldered Hawk at Orlando Wetlands
Red-shouldered Hawk

This Red-shouldered Hawk posed at the top of one of the dead trees.  He actually blended in pretty well.  Such a pretty bird in soft morning light.

Little Blue Heron at Orlando Wetlands
Little Blue Heron

This Little Blue Heron sat calmly on a lower branch.  He seemed to agree with me – it was hot out that morning!

Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Flight
Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Flight

The skies were full of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, whose cheerful calls echoed throughout the marsh.  Mostly they stayed behind me, where I would have had to shoot into the sun to photograph them.  Maybe one of these days I’ll return in the afternoon.

Juvie Grackle at Orlando Wetlands
Juvie Grackle

A pair of juvie grackles was preening in the reeds.  They made such a fuss!  I was a little surprised not to see more little birds in these reeds.  I guess I have to wait a few more weeks for some of the winter migrants to arrive.

Speaking of winter migrants, the Belted Kingfishers are back already.  A pair of them were engaged in a vigorous chasing match.  Every time one would land, the other would chase him off.  They flew left. They flew right.  Up. Down. No branch was a permissible resting place.  They chased each other almost the whole time that I photographed the tiny dancers!

Belted Kingfisher in Flight at Orlando Wetlands
Belted Kingfisher in Flight

As I walked back, I spotted a Common Gallinule with her young chick.  The gallinules raise several clutches in a summer.  It’s always fun to come across the babies.  They look like little black aliens!

Common Gallinule and Baby at Orlando Wetlands
Common Gallinule and Baby

Orlando Wetlands is one place where I can reliably find Purple Gallinules, and this day was no exception.  I spotted a family of two adults and three juveniles hopping through the vegetation. One juvenile in particular seemed to love to flap his wings.  “Look out, world, I’m growing up!” he seemed to say.  Maybe next time I’m there I’ll photograph him in his full purple plumage.

Juvenile Purple Gallinule at Orlando Wetlands
Juvenile Purple Gallinule

I’ll close with another shot of a whistling duck, one of my favorite birds.  They nest in cavities in trees, and I suspect this bird had a small family calling to him from the way that he kept guard over this tree.  But if you didn’t know that, you might think he was looking for something that he lost – kinda like me when I can’t find my phone!

Did I lose something? at Orlando Wetlands
Did I lose something?

I’m looking forward to cooler weather and more opportunities to photograph our wonderful winter birds.  Stay tuned!

 

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